“But I thought you were the career woman!,” my friend exclaimed with surprise. I had just told her that I could not wait to have my own family – the husband, the babies, the dog and the picket fence. I was (and still am) looking forward to that. This conversation occurred a few years ago. At the time I was in my early twenties, a recent college graduate working at a firm in Manhattan.
Since I was a young girl, I dreamt of a successful career. While the exact career transformed from year-to-year, the dream was always there. Yet, I also dreamt of having a family. The early romantic in me wanted the big beautiful wedding, the doting husband, a son and twin daughters. As you can see, I had it all down to the details. I never felt or thought that I would have to choose family or career. Not once did I believe that I would have to give up one for the other. I believed both could happen simultaneously.
Thus, my friend’s reaction to my spoken desires shocked and perturbed me. I paused wondering if I had to choose. I wanted to know if pursuing my career goals meant that I had to put my dreams of having a family on hold. Most importantly, I wondered if the people in my world saw me as “the career woman” and only that.
I do not have dreams of being superwoman. I know that women everywhere juggle career and family all the time, and I can imagine it’s demanding and difficult (even if fulfilling) at times. I can also imagine that the scale is often unbalanced. Having a career and family means that I must be comfortable with accepting help in many different forms. I do not fool myself into thinking that I can go about my dreams alone (see note about superwoman). Yet as I did as a child, I still believe I can have both the career and the family. Like so many women, I look forward to adding the family hat to various other hats that I wear. Am I a career woman? Yes. But, I’m also a whole lot of other types of woman.